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The People v. Paul David Carmona

May 27, 2011

THE PEOPLE, PLAINTIFF AND RESPONDENT,
v.
PAUL DAVID CARMONA, JR. ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND APPELLANTS.



Appeal from judgments of the Superior Court of Orange County, James Edward Rogan, Judge. (Super. Ct. No. 09NF3447)

The opinion of the court was delivered by: O'leary, Acting P. J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Reversed and remanded with directions.

Paul David Carmona, Jr., and Alice Holguin appeal from their convictions for possession and transportation of controlled substances for sale. On appeal, they contend the trial court erred by denying their motion to suppress evidence, after which they changed their pleas to guilty. We agree and reverse the convictions.

FACTS

The facts adduced at the hearing on the suppression motion are not in dispute. La Habra Police Officer Nick Wilson was driving southbound on Walnut Street, after dark, going about 25 miles per hour. Walnut Street has two lanes (one each direction) and forms a "'T'" intersection with Olive; there is a stop sign on Olive but not on Walnut. From about 40 yards away, Wilson saw a Chevrolet sports utility vehicle (the SUV) driving northbound on Walnut (i.e., coming towards him). Wilson's vehicle and the SUV were the only vehicles on the road at the time. When Wilson was about 55 feet away from the SUV, the SUV made a right-hand turn onto Olive Street without first using a turn signal. Although he had originally intended to continue driving straight on Walnut, Wilson made a left-hand turn onto Olive, followed the SUV, activated his emergency lights, and conducted a traffic stop. Wilson's police report stated the turn without a signal constituted a violation of Vehicle Code section 22107, which prohibits turning without an appropriate signal "in the event any other vehicle may be affected by the movement." At the suppression hearing, Wilson agreed the right-hand turn could not have affected his car (he was traveling in the opposite direction and was still at least 55 feet away) or any other cars (there were none).

Wilson contacted the driver, Carmona, and within seconds asked him if he was on parole. Carmona confirmed he was on active parole. Wilson observed the passenger, Holguin, to be sweating. She was very fidgety and unable to sit still. Wilson asked if there were any narcotics in the vehicle. Carmona indicated he did not know. Wilson searched the car and found baggies containing crystalline powder later determined to be 7.1 grams of methamphetamine and cellular telephones with text messages related to narcotics transactions on them. A search of Holguin's person revealed a plastic device used for snorting methamphetamine on which there was a crystal-like substance.

An information charged Carmona and Holguin with one count of transportation of a controlled substance (Health & Saf. Code, § 11379, subd. (a)) (count 1). The information also charged Holguin with one count of possession of a controlled substance for sale (Health & Saf. Code, § 11378) (count 2), and alleged Carmona suffered one serious and violent felony strike conviction (Pen. Code, §§ 667, subds. (d) & (e)(1); 1170.12, subd. (b)), and one prison prior (Pen. Code, § 667.5, subds. (b) & (c)(1)).

Carmona filed a motion to suppress in which Holguin joined (Pen. Code, § 1538.5), seeking to suppress the evidence seized as a result of the car stop and subsequent search. As relevant here, Carmona and Holguin claimed they were unlawfully detained because Wilson had no reasonable suspicion of a violation of the Vehicle Code. They asserted there was no violation of Vehicle Code section 22107*fn1 because there was no other vehicle that might have been affected by the turn. Wilson was driving the opposite direction and there were no other cars on the road. The prosecutor argued that even if the turn did not violate section 22107, the facts supported a violation of section 22108, which provides, "Any signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given continuously during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning."

At the hearing on the motion to suppress, the trial court initially concurred with defendants' assertion sections 22107 and 22108 must be read in conjunction with each other. Section 22107 describes the prohibited conduct of turning without a signal if another vehicle might be affected and section 22108 describes the duration of the signal (100 feet continuously when making a right or left turn). But following argument, the trial court agreed with the prosecution that sections 22107 and 22108 are separate and distinct statutes each one describing a separate crime. The trial court found section 22108 was the applicable statute, i.e., Carmona's right-hand turn made without first signaling for 100 feet was a violation of section 22108. Accordingly, it denied the motion to suppress.

After the trial court denied the suppression motion, Carmona and Holguin pled guilty to the charges. The court struck Carmona's prior conviction enhancements and sentenced him to two years in state prison. The court sentenced Holguin to three years of formal probation with various terms and conditions, including that she serve 90 days in the Orange County Jail.

DISCUSSION

Carmona and Holguin contend Wilson unlawfully stopped and detained them. They argue Carmona's right-hand turn was not one requiring a signal because there was no other vehicle that ...


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